One of our favorite blogs here at Strimo is Digital Tonto. While Digital Tonto writes about the “crossroads of media, marketing, and technology”, it’s their insights into data that we find most interesting. We all know that data’s importance to business strategy is unimaginably larger than a couple of decades ago, but what does it mean to have data that works for your business, in a secure, tangible, and applicable context?
Understand- Before embarking on a quest to internalize more data collection and analysis into your business practices, it is important to understand what you’re looking for. By asking the right questions, you will better inform the context behind the numbers. Too often businesses seek to find the answer to a complex strategic question with only one or two data points, when often the answer lies at the intersection of a much larger web of data points from many sectors of the business.
It is also essential to keep in mind that data won’t provide a definitive answer to every headwind a business might meet. Sales data for instance might be a great snapshot of how a business is growing, but it can’t capture some of the more intangible inputs that might be dragging or boosting sales such a weather, time of year, or the nature of salesperson/client interactions. For these considerations, it is important to look up from the data and use it as a framework for assessing the human intensive side of your business. Digital Tonto calls this practice “managing for mission, not for metrics”.
A final consideration to understand when it comes to putting data to work for you business is “building for a purpose”. Too often data is seen as a powerful tool for business growth and compliance by those at the top of an organization, without understanding the day-to-day implications for frontline employees. By putting a purpose behind your data collection and analysis, you can better ensure buy-in from the employees who make data intensive business practices work. The data should ease the workload of employees and empower them to grow in previously unthinkable ways. Any system or data that is irrelevant to the mission and efficiency of your business and employees will contribute to decreased performance.
Use-When it comes to implementation and management of data solutions the most tedious tasks should be automated first. For instance, with Strimo we have received feedback from clients that reporting and recording tasks that used to take them four hours a week can be significantly reduced to 30 minutes or less once Strimo is fully implemented. This is a great example of using data to free up employee time to focus on more strategic tasks. Data is never a replacement for human-specific skill but is a tool to make employees work smarter.
Building off this idea, remember that data is never the whole story, but that the most effective data can be used to tell a story. Failing to look behind the numbers can prove costly to a business, so always integrate the numbers you see into larger narratives and trends. No data project can entirely remove the possibility for human error, and by building data points into cohesive business narratives, businesses can have a firmer understanding of their strategic goals.
Secure-Finally, one of the biggest components for any business reliant on data is security. Cloud storage has removed a lot of the uncertainty around data storage, but you have to still be cognizant of where your data is being stored and what is being done with it. Businesses have long had processes in place to ensure the integrity of financials and inventory, and data should be no exception. Regular audits, and clear chains of command for the maintenance and archiving of data must be ensured.
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